Whence the information business?

Posted on June 9, 2008
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             At the Canadian Newspapers Association convention in Toronto in May, there were strong hints as to where the information business is going.

            It appears the way people will be receiving their news and information in future will be very personal. It seems most likely that the day of the desk computer and home phone are on the way out.

            Partially because of the natural evolution of technology and partially because of the fact that technology loves to play leapfrog, individuals in future will probably wear phones as they do watches now. The phone will also act as a personal digital assistant providing access to addresses, phone numbers email addresses, appointment schedules and alarms and will capture still and video images.

            It may even include a light emitting diode (LED) projector to display computer programs and spread sheets on anything handy.

            It will also be a source of books, music, video, maps, directions and anything else you can think of that you might want to know. The global positioning satellite system (GPS) will also tell others where you are.

            Quite probably very little of this will be stored within the device. In future your personal device will provide access to your personal data stored in your segment of colossal data banks.

            Oh, and yes, it will also tell you the time.

            In my imagining, it curves around your wrist and flips open to reveal a touch-screen keyboard and monitor.

            I do wonder how the companies that produce the content will be paid.

            The leapfrog element of the evolution will come because so much of the world does not have the complex landline infrastructure we have in North America and Europe. China, for example, will skip that stage and go directly to wireless. Because the areas that do not have the landline infrastructure offer such immense growth potential, manufacturers and network developers will concentrate on wireless. Why aim at part of the world market when wireless technology can serve everyone?

            The cost of newsprint, time delays in delivering printed information and the fact that hard copy is not interactive, threaten your newspapers and flyers. Almost as significant is the challenge of finding people to deliver them.

            Even without the challenge of rapidly escalating gasoline costs, fewer people are interested in working for the kind of income door-to-door delivery provides. Imagine what it is like to be a distribution manager in Vancouver or Calgary.

            In the medium term future, any hard copy you do have you probably will print on your own equipment in your own home.

Poignant picture

            While the newspaper convention was taking place, the Toronto Photography Festival was also in various venues around the city. It is a world festival that features images of anything imaginable. One artist talked several couples among her friends into having sex on camera for her presentation.

            One photo was most poignant. Robert Burley captured laid off employees of a Kodak film manufacturing plant watching two buildings where they had worked being imploded. For the festival, the photo was enlarged and painted on an outside wall of a building at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art on Queen Street.

            The ironic factor that made it poignant was the ex-employees were photographing the explosion with digital cameras.

            The MOCCA exhibition triggered the Miramichi connection that so often happens when I travel.

            After taking in the exhibition, I looked for a place to have lunch.  Queen Street West is a very hip neighbourhood now so I just wandered along looking for a likely spot. The Oyster Boy offered oyster po’boy sandwiches and drew me in. A nice young man brought me a menu and a woman was shucking oysters behind the bar.

            I struck up a conversation and quickly established that they had New Brunswick, PEI and British Columbia sources of their oysters. The New Brunswick ones come from Caraquet and Richibucto.

            I naturally immediately launched into praises for Maison Beausoleil oysters from Neguac. When she asked me where that is, I told her just up the coast from Miramichi where I live.

            “Your waiter is from Miramichi,” she replied.

            The nice young man turned out to be Brad Casey, a young musician and songwriter from the Casey Tire family here. Like so many young musicians, he augments his performance income with a day job.

            He graduated with my daughter, Aaran Guitard and is the younger brother of Colin Casey, a school friend of Nathan’s, a UNB web wizard and the guy who got and keeps me on line.

            On we go!

                                                DAC

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